Prince Henry of Battenberg

Prince Henry
Born (1858-10-05)5 October 1858
Milan, Lombardy–Venetia
Died 20 January 1896(1896-01-20) (aged 37)
HMS Blonde, n. Sierra Leone
Burial 5 February 1896
St. Mildred's Church, Whippingham, Isle of Wight
Spouse Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom
(m. 1885)
Issue Alexander Mountbatten, Marquess of Carisbrooke
Victoria Eugenie, Queen of Spain
Lord Leopold Mountbatten
Prince Maurice of Battenberg
Full name
Henry Maurice Battenberg
Family Battenberg
Father Prince Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine
Mother Countess Julia Hauke
Occupation Military
Tomb of Princess Beatrice and Prince Henry of Battenberg, St. Mildred's Church, Whippingham, Isle of Wight
Coat of arms of Prince Henry of Battenberg

Prince Henry of Battenberg KG PC (Henry Maurice; German: Heinrich Moritz; 5 October 1858 – 20 January 1896) was a morganatic descendant of the Grand Ducal House of Hesse, later becoming a member of the British Royal Family, through his marriage to Princess Beatrice.

Early life

Henry was born on 5 October 1858 in Milan, Lombardy–Venetia. His father was Prince Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine, the third son and fourth child of Grand Duke Ludwig II of Hesse and Wilhelmina of Baden. His mother was Countess Julia Hauke.

His parents' marriage was morganatic, as Julia was not considered a proper wife for a prince of a reigning dynasty, being only a countess. As such, at the time of his birth, Henry could not bear his father's title or name, and was styled His Illustrious Highness Count Henry (Heinrich) Maurice of Battenberg. When Henry's mother was raised to Princess von Battenberg and given the higher style of Her Serene Highness by Alexander's older brother, Louis III, Grand Duke of Hesse, Henry and his siblings shared in their mother's new rank. He became His Serene Highness Prince Henry of Battenberg, although he remained ineligible to inherit the throne of Hesse or to receive a civil list stipend.

Prince Henry received a military education and took up a commission as a lieutenant in the 1st Regiment of the Rhenish Hussars in the Prussian Army. He served in the Prussian Garde du Corps and was also Honorary Colonel of the 1st Infantry Regiment of Bulgaria,[1] where his brother Alexander was Prince.


Because of their close relationship to the Grand Ducal House of Hesse, the Battenbergs came into close contact with various ruling families of Europe, including the British Royal House. Henry's elder brother, Prince Louis of Battenberg, had married Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine, his first cousin once-removed and a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. In 1884, Prince Henry became engaged to Princess Beatrice, the fifth daughter and the youngest child of Queen Victoria and Albert, Prince Consort. Queen Victoria agreed to the marriage on the condition that the couple should make their home with her. The Queen formally gave her consent to the marriage at a meeting of the Privy Council on 27 January 1885.[2]

On 22 July 1885, the Queen made Prince Henry a Knight of the Garter, and granted him the style Royal Highness to give him equal rank with his wife.[3] This style took effect in the United Kingdom, but not in the German Empire (where the Prince was still considered a Serene Highness).[4]

Beatrice and Henry were married at St Mildred's Church at Whippingham, near Osborne,[5] on 23 July 1885.[6][7] On the same day, a bill to naturalise Prince Henry a British subject passed the House of Lords. The couple adopted the style, Their Royal Highnesses Prince and Princess Henry of Battenberg.

On 22 August 1885 he was made Honorary Colonel of the 5th (Isle of Wight, Princess Beatrice's) Volunteer Battalion, the Hampshire Regiment,[8] In early 1886 it was announced in The Times that he would be made a Captain in the 1st Life Guards, but the Secretary of State for War denied knowledge of this in the House of Commons and the appointment did not take place.[9]

Prince and Princess Henry of Battenberg had four children. By Royal Warrant of 13 December 1886, the Queen granted their children the style Highness, although not the title of Prince/Princess.[10] This style took immediate effect in the United Kingdom and elsewhere except within the German Empire, where, as Princes and Princesses of Battenberg, they were only entitled to the style Serene Highness.[4]

Later life & death

In 1889 Prince Henry was made Governor of Carisbrooke Castle and Captain-General and Governor of the Isle of Wight.[11] He was made Lieutenant-Colonel in the Army on 21 June 1887,[12][13] Colonel on 22 February 1893[14] and appointed to the Privy Council on 20 November 1894.[15][16]

In November 1895, Prince Henry persuaded Queen Victoria to allow him to go to West Africa to fight in the Ashanti War. He served as the military secretary to the commander-in-chief of British forces, General Sir Francis Scott. He contracted malaria when the expedition reached Prahsu, about 30 miles (50 km) from Kumasi, and subsequently died aboard the cruiser HMS Blonde stationed off the coast of Sierra Leone. His body was repatriated by the cruiser HMS Blenheim from the Canary Islands and his funeral service took place on 5 February 1896, at the same St. Mildred's Church, Whippingham on the Isle of Wight where he had been married. Interment followed in what became known as the Battenberg Chapel.[17] The remains of his wife, Princess Beatrice, were placed there in August 1945 and those of his eldest son, the Marquess of Carisbrooke, in July 1961.

Beatrice’s sister Louise told Sir James Reid of "Prince Henry's attempted relations with her, which she had declined."[18]

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

Styles of
Prince Henry of Battenberg
Reference style His Royal Highness
Spoken style Your Royal Highness
Alternative style Sir



Alexander Mountbatten, Marquess of Carisbrooke3 November 188623 February 1960Married, 1917 Irene Denison (4 July 1890 – 16 July 1956); had issue.
Victoria Eugénie,
Queen of Spain
24 October 188715 April 1969Married, 1906, King Alfonso XIII of Spain (17 May 1886 – 28 February 1941); had issue.
Lord Leopold Mountbatten21 May 188923 April 1922Suffered from haemophilia; died unmarried and without issue during a knee operation.
Prince Maurice of Battenberg3 October 189127 October 1914Killed in action during World War I.



  1. The London Gazette: no. 26712. p. 955. 17 February 1896.
  2. The London Gazette: no. 25436. p. 357. 27 January 1885.
  3. The London Gazette: no. 25493. p. 3425. 24 July 1885.
  4. 1 2 Dennison, M., The Last Princess, p.150
  5. Beatrice and her siblings were confirmed here
  6. Purdue. "Beatrice, Princess; Battenberg, Prince Henry of". Retrieved 8 November 2007.
  7. The London Gazette: no. 25495. p. 3529. 28 July 1885.
  8. The London Gazette: no. 25503. p. 3948. 21 August 1885.
  10. The London Gazette: no. 25655. p. 6305. 14 December 1886.
  11. Dennison, M., The Last Princess, p.182-183
  12. The London Gazette: no. 25712. p. 3366. 21 June 1887.
  13. The London Gazette: no. 25773. p. 223. 5 January 1888.
  14. The London Gazette: no. 26374. p. 946. 21 February 1893.
  16. The London Gazette: no. 26573. p. 6625. 23 November 1894.
  17. The London Gazette: no. 26712. p. 953. 17 February 1896.
  18. Stamp, Robert (1 May 1988). Royal rebels: Princess Louise & the Marquis of Lorne. Dundurn Press. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  19. 1 2 Paget, Gerald (1977), The Lineage & Ancestry of HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Edinburgh and London: Charles Skilton
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Viscount Eversley
Governor of the Isle of Wight
Succeeded by
Princess Beatrice
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